A mindful walk can help you to settle your thoughts because it takes energy away from the thinking mind chewing over the past or the future.
Instead, you can become aware of what your body is doing right now: thus putting your awareness and energy into the present moment. With practice, your thoughts will naturally settle because they are not being stirred up.
In this blog we are going to explore different ways to walk mindfully that will hopefully give you a little “walking mindfully toolkit” for your everyday life.
There are various ways to go about learning this but a good way is to practice a formal walking exercise in your own home, then have a go at a less formal one when out and about.
So here is a video that looks at stage one of a formal walking exercise (Stages 2 to 4 will follow in later blogs for you to learn.)
It is a good one to learn! When I first started I practised this style of walking meditation again and again... and again. It put me in good stead to use it in everyday life in a much looser way.
Before we go forward we will need to consider the wandering mind. I’ve done a separate blog post on this, as it is a big subject, entitled: 3 Simple Approaches for Settling Wandering Mind.
As a taster, here are a couple of simple attitude approaches to adopt:
1. Don’t expect to be calm
2. Do expect to come back to your posture again and again
To briefly cover this off: expecting to be calm every time you meditate or apply mindfulness can set up a disappointment cycle. This very cycle can, in fact, prevent the mind being calm. So the simple rule is: just open to how you are and accept this and if you are fighting it then accept you are fighting it. Whatever is there, just accept it. Try for yourselves and let me know how you get on.
Consider the mind like a pool of muddy water, the more you interfere with it the more you'll stir up the mud and the cloudier it will become. By accepting and allowing the mud to settle in its own time the pool will eventually become clear. The mind and thinking are much the same, just accept at first and allow it to settle in its own time, be patient and try not to interfere too much.
OK point 2 then. Well let’s learn this one on the job, let’s have a look at a short “loosened up” informal walking exercise for you to try next time you go for a walk.
How did that go? Did you manage to come back to the sensation of your body walking? Were your thoughts all over the place? Did you accept this?
Allowing the mind to settle and concentrating is not multitasking (although it might appear that way).
You might now be asking yourself, “I’m supposed to do nothing and let the mind settle but now you are telling me to concentrate on my posture walking; isn’t that doing something?” It is a good question and if you were not thinking it, well, you are now!
Reflect, if you are watching the pool of muddy water settle you are making effort to watch but you are not sticking your hand in and stirring the mud up. You are just watching. Steady concentration on the breath or posture of the body is like just watching.
Asking emotions not be there or telling them to go away, or adding stories to them; or indulging thoughts, following thoughts, adding stories to thoughts; is stirring the pool of water, stirring up the mind.
It is a skill: not interfering, and applies to all the postures of mindfulness, and one I’m continuing to be open to develop in. It can be wonderful as one can let go and watch the meditation unfold by itself into a calmer state of being that gives the mind a sense of space to let old habit cycles surface and release.
This releasing of old habit cycles softens the mind and leads to further peace; the pool of muddy water settles out more and more.
Have a go and see how you get on. I’d love to hear your feedback on how you found both of the walking exercises so feel free to leave a comment or two.
Also if you would also like to have a look at the other postures in the series so far here are the links:
2. How to Walk and Better Settle Thoughts
3. How to Sit and Start to Calm
4. How to Lie Down and Begin to Relax